Fire Day at Our Place
The other day was fire day, a day where I light the fire earlier in the day to do some baking or cooking. Back in the time of our grandmothers everyone did batch baking. You would put aside a day of the week/fortnight/month and do as much baking as possible to free up time in the coming days. I’ve found it has been useful to adopt this practice because baking in the wood stove takes a lot more supervision of the temperature than with an ordinary electric or gas stove. I need to be in or around the kitchen the whole time so I can monitor the fire and temperature, and even then it sometimes goes awry 😉
The days here are starting a little slower thanks to the chill of a morning.
Thankfully, when there is sunshine, the house heats up quickly and so do we. Once we had taken the big kids to school, Quinn and I set about our mornings work. I cleaned up the kitchen, pretending it would actually stay clean for more than 5 minutes
worked out the recipes I needed for the day
and moved the latest batch of seedlings out into the sunshine
whilst Quinn busied himself with a puzzle or two.
Next it was off to the woodshed, so we could set about lighting the fire and getting down to the days business. As usual we got distracted on the way, by the garden. I try to spend some time in the garden each day, seeing how everything is growing, what has come up, what isn’t doing so well and planning what will go in next. Often I do this when I am hanging the washing in the morning and bringing it in in the afternoon. Being fire day I had put the washing on hold (of course it rained the next day) but the garden still called both Quinn and I, and we last at least half an hour as we wandered around.
We spied broccoli heads sprouting, soon to be picked
a red chilli we came back to pick later on
and corn making its way towards the sky. This isn’t Quinn’s lone corn, this is the next planting which is a Balinese Sweet Corn.
As we wandered, myself and my little helper (I have to say, I feel a little 😦 when I see this photo, it doesn’t feel like it does the garden justice)
we found new baby pumpkins,
(yes that’s a weed, there are lots of those in my garden) and fat tomatoes that I am hoping will ripen before that inevitable first frost.
Quinn asked if he could pull up a carrot that he had found and thought was big enough. Carrots are potluck here, we have orange and purple growing and the seeds have been scattered at random and come up haphazardly over the beds at different times.
As well as irregular watering, the beds hold rocks and clay too which can do interesting things to the carrots shape.
Of course there is always more to do in the garden, but we dragged ourselves away and up to our intended task, letting the chickens out on the way as we do every morning. Quinn decided to entertain the chooks with his tree clambering antics
whilst I stacked up the wheelbarrow with wood for the day and night,
then we headed back to the house to light the fire.
Then it was action stations! Light the fire…..
First up I was attempting an apricot and mandarin marmalade. I had prepared the pulps the night before as they needed to soak.
So, I combined all the necessary ingredients and it was onto the stove.
Next I wanted to make some tomato chilli jam. My mum had made some from her glut of tomatoes and gifted us a bottle. We had thoroughly enjoyed it on cheese and biscuits every night for a month and she had passed me the recipe to try. So, off we went to hunt down enough tomatoes. I don’t actually have any large ripe tomatoes at the moment so we used cherry tomatoes hunted out from some I have staked in one of the gardens, the chook pen, the compost heap and various other places around the property. My favourite cherry tom bush (yes, I have a favourite one) is nicknamed my espalier bush. It came up at the entry way to the carport under one of those wire fences. I decided to leave it grow one day when I was weeding and see what happened. Each day as I go past I tuck a branch here and through there and this is what we ended up with.
It is one of the healthiest plants I have and the tomatoes it bears prolifically are lovely and sweet, but tiny.
So we collected our tomatoes
and the lone Bunnings Capsicum, added the required ingredients, whizzed it up (or as Jamie Oliver would say “whazzed it up”)
and set it off a bubbling.
The tomato jam turned out great. It is yum with just a big enough hit of chilli, well for me anyway.
So, what of the marmalade? Well it looks great and tastes good too. I am, however, still learning and it has not set. I am trying to make the jams without using things like Jamsetta and this was a miss (I previously made a lime marmalade which was just set when cooled). As you can see I am trying to be zen about it all and chalk it up to experience, but it was disappointing. At least it tastes good, even if I do have to spoon it on to my toast!
The cooking did not stop there. We made scones
I made muffins
while Quinn performed quality assurance tests on the scones.
Then there was a zucchini slice
followed by a mad dash to school to pick up the two older kids. Of course thats the moment when things got busy and I forgot to take any more photos. I also made a chocolate beetroot cake which was named the chocolate pancake, but it tasted good, and a roast chicken dinner (not our own chook, but locally freeranged) that was ready just after Sim arrived home from his week in Brisbane. I was tired, the family were happy and full. Fire day is always a big day, but still, somehow we always wander through it instead of charging, which I think is nice for a change.